Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching

Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching

I'm a Personal Development Life Coach who specialises in L.I.F.E (Living Into your Fullest Expression). Based in Richards Bay, on the East Coast of South Africa, I live with my long-suffering husband, (his description!), two much-loved dogs and care for my elderly father who has Alzheimer's.

Read more about me here.
Monday, 06 May 2013 20:10

The Ups and Downs of Life!

Compassion is where the sunlight of kindness meets the tears of sadness
and a rainbow is formed.
Akong Tulku Rinpoche

Life certainly has its moments with some undeniably being better than others. Generally speaking the ride up doesn't cause half as much trouble as the down ride, so let's bravely tackle the enormous topic of negative emotions with the hope of bringing sunlight and rainbows into dark places!

I have a teeny problem with much of the wonderful, often uplifting good advice out there. It is fabulous and works brilliantly right up until the moment I have instantaneously transformed into either a seething mass of anger, a quivering wreck or been reduced to nothing but a puddle of tears. At which point, I entirely forget everything useful I have ever heard, or worse, find myself shrieking, sometimes out loud, "HOW exactly am I meant to relax / let go / cheer up / forgive and move on or focus on the positive etc.?"

It's incredibly hard to bear strong emotions without feeling you won't survive the tidal wave of sensations raging through your mind and body. Our instinct to fight or flee is deeply embedded in our neural pathways (or wherever these sorts of deeply embedded things lurk) and it takes practice to change the habits of a lifetime.

Luckily we come equipped with the perfect counter balance, our intelligence. Although there is an unfortunate design fault I should mention: there is a slight delay before it kicks in. This means that if we can buy some time before launching our reactive response into the world, we give our intelligence, our capacity for more mature, reasoned reflection, time to come to the party.

In moments of real danger, our bodies' defences can save our lives. The problem comes in with the long term effect of daily stress which can devastate our health and well being. By slowing our reactions down, we give ourselves time to think more clearly and through that, hopefully make better choices.

The solution is simple, take a deep breath in, exhale and repeat until you feel better! Funnily enough, when our defences are focused on preparing us physically for danger, by voluntarily changing our pattern of breathing, we influence the messages the body is sending to our brain and in that way, change the way we think and feel.

So next time your neck is knotted with tension and your jaw clenched, give it a try. I mean, honestly, how difficult can it be to remember to breathe!
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 12:31

Become your BFF!

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A little while ago I was having a "Do I have to?" sort of day. I finally had time to do a task I'd been putting off for ages and still didn't want to settle down to it. After much procrastination, I slumped down at the computer to get started and to my delight there was a complete power failure. Making the most of a very lucky reprieve, I popped the dogs and husband in the car and went for a lovely walk on the beach. It was a beautiful day and I came back recharged and in a much better frame of mind to complete what I needed to.

The whole experience got me thinking about chores, those everyday things that we have to do whether we feel like it or not: cooking, cleaning, the admin part of our job, or anything we may love doing, just not right now and certainly not everyday. The question is, how can we overcome our resistance or resentment and fulfill our "must do's" in a joyfully enthusiastic way?

Human beings are driven by deeply instinctive forces to move away from pain and towards pleasure and the key is learning when to push and when to indulge ourselves. It's about finding the balance, and one way to do that is to become a trusted friend to yourself. Who doesn't want the kind of friend who is there for you, who listens and comforts you when you need a hug, but will gently and firmly tell you when you are losing the plot?

By becoming your own best friend you create the space within yourself to explore what is really holding you back. The diagnosis is all important; taking every cough medicine on the market is not going to help a headache, nor will tidy cupboards pass an exam! We spend so much time dodging or avoiding what we dislike when sometimes all we need is to sit ourselves down with a cup of tea and have a friendly chat, with ourselves, about what's going on.

Of course if that fails, I highly recommend bribing yourself with a fabulous reward. It doesn't have to be big or expensive, just something that associates pleasure with your task. It's the perfect time to do as Gandhi suggests, be the change you want to see in the world and become your best friend forever!
Tuesday, 09 April 2013 14:40

Getting the best out of yourself!

“In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.”
Daniel Goleman

So here we are, we've taken a good look at our lives and come to the rather startling conclusion that we are not quite living the life we want. Maybe you are one of the over achiever types who constantly strives to be good at everything, or you have swung to the other extreme and don't do half of what you need to because quite honestly, you don’t give a damn anymore. Or perhaps you are one of those creative types who has come up with a personalised programme of self-defeating behaviour unique to you and your life?

Whatever your modus operandi is, living the life you want starts with learning how to get the best out of yourself. And what does that mean? We all have bad days where nothing goes right and fabulous days where we are inspired and magnificent, but on many of the in-between mundane sort of days we are more likely to notice what is going wrong rather that what is going right. We mess up one small task, forget something important, or snap at an undeserving person and it is all too easy to remember every mistake we have ever made and berate ourselves for being a hopeless failure.

What we have done is taken the small ember of painful feeling in our heart and fanned it into a raging forest fire with our thoughts. Our mind that thinks and our mind that feels have worked together to take us in a direction that harms and weakens us. Instead, take a moment and imagine using the intelligence of your mind to balance and calm the emotions in your heart: how your life would be then?

It works both ways: at times when we get too critical or results focused, our hearts remind us to be kind and gentle with ourselves and others; we encourage ourselves to move forward, to take that next step. When we get too emotional, the coolness of our head calms and steadies us by reminding us of the consequence of our actions. So to get the best out of ourselves, we want our left and right brain, or heart and mind working together in a way that supports and benefits not only us but also the people around us.
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 00:00

Is what I am doing making me happy?

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.
Lin Yutang

The question is simple, is what I am doing making me happy? Answering it however, is not! In fact it opens up a can of worms that, honestly, most of us would really rather not think about. In order to change something that we are unhappy with in our life there is a critical first step. We have to admit to ourselves that our life or an aspect of our life is not how we want it to be. "What me? Not coping? Don’t be ridiculous." my inner perfectionist grumbles in the background!

Sadly, the truth of the matter is that if we are going to make a change, and it doesn't matter what area of your life needs some attention: health, weight loss, taxes, procrastination, or too much on your plate, we have to start by truly deeply wanting to change. Otherwise you can read every self help book or article ever written, agree wholeheartedly but never take the steps needed to actually make the change.

Luckily, we have the most powerful resource to help freely available right within ourselves. One that if we allow it, will help us become far more amazing than we can comprehend right now. This resource is our own mind! However, to tap into and harness its power is a bit like, well… trying to ride a wild horse, or cage an untamed monkey. Marching up and giving yourself a piece of your mind won't work, for obvious reasons! Instead skill is needed, we have to get very clever, learn to become 'mind whisperers' to start getting the best out of ourselves.

One way to do that is to start building trust by gently and kindly asking the question, "Is what I am doing making me happy? Is it making the people around me happy?" Then, and this bit is important so please don’t forget to do it, you need to answer the question! Take five minutes before you go to bed at night to reflect on your day: what went well, what you can do better next time and what would be better not done at all? We have spent years doing things that harm us in the mistaken belief they will make us happy. By spending a few minutes of quality time with yourself, you create the space to discover what is meaningful to your life and what isn't.
Tuesday, 26 March 2013 10:48

Start where you are…Do nothing!

'What makes you worthwhile is who you are, not what you do'.
Marianne Williams

Do nothing! Pretty strange advice coming from a Life Coach whose business ethos is 'Action-orientated coaching to live happy, healthy lives', but I assure you there is method in my madness!

Most of us are bombarded by a rush of thoughts from the moment we wake up in the morning to when we collapse exhausted into bed late at night. Our days are packed with activities, meetings, appointments, deadlines and to-do lists that drive us relentlessly. More often than not, we are so busy just getting by that we don't take the time to stop and assess whether the many the things we are doing in our pursuit for happiness, are actually taking us in the direction we want to go. We forget that it is not all about taking action. To move forward and to live the lives we want, we need to take focused, effective, action.

Surprisingly, the first step in doing that is slowing down. Our instinct is screaming at us to hurry up, go faster, do more, try harder when instead, what we really need to do, is slow down, take a deep breath and look at what is going on inside and around us. Unfortunately this is not something that comes easily to many of us unless we are ill or craning our necks to peer at a passing roadside accident!

So, for this week, I would like to suggest you don't do anything differently... yep, I really meant it when I said DO NOTHING! Instead put moments of waiting or transition from one task to another to good use. If you start to pay attention you will notice natural breaks in activity as you go about your day.

While you wait for the kettle to boil, take a moment to look out the window, notice the first rays of sunlight filtering through the trees, feel the weight of your body as you stand and breathe in deeply. As you sit at a red traffic light, instead of drumming your fingers impatiently on the steering wheel, use that moment of stillness to get in touch with your body. Feel your back resting against the seat, notice the air moving across your face and connect with the sense of being alive.

Take it easy and let me know how it goes!
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